10 Best Wide Receivers in New York Giants History

Updated on December 26, 2019

Who Are the Greatest Wide Receivers in New York Giants History?

The New York Giants have had their share of great wide receivers. As a longtime fan, I've enjoyed watching many of the best in team history. And as a student of Giants history, I've come to appreciate many wide receivers from the earlier years of the franchise, too.

To take one simple measure of success, there have been 10 Giants wide receivers who have tallied more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Seven of those players have accomplished the feat more than once, led by Amani Toomer, who did it in five consecutive seasons. In the 2011 season, two Giants players, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, both had more than 1,000 receiving yards.

Most of the 24 seasons in which the Giants have had at least one wide receiver with more than 1,000 yards have been in the 21st century. This isn't surprising, as modern players in the National Football League (NFL) are often stronger, faster, and better conditioned than players of earlier eras. Changes in the game itself have also contributed to the frequency with which new milestones are set.

So it's not always easy to do an apples-to-apples comparison of players from different eras and rank their achievements.

Selection and Ranking Criteria for This List

Although it may not be easy, it's still always fun to rank the best players. So here's my list of the 10 greatest wide receivers in New York Giants history (including those designated as flankers or split ends). The top 10 ranking is followed by a list of several others who deserve honorable mention.

These are my criteria:

  • Length of Career With the Giants: How many seasons did the player play for the Giants? This ranking includes only wide receivers who were on the team for a minimum of four seasons.
  • Individual Performance Statistics and Achievements: I compared the players' receiving statistics, including total receiving yardage, yards per reception, touchdowns, and more. I looked at career totals as well as performances in individual seasons and sometimes in particular games. For players whose careers included time with other teams besides the Giants, I considered only their years with the Giants.
  • Recognition and Awards: Was the player selected for the Pro Bowl or named a first-team All-Pro? Did he win a Most Valuable Player award or recognition as Player of the Month or Player of the Week? Is the player in the Hall of Fame or in the Giants Ring of Honor, or has his jersey been retired?
  • Team Success: A top wide receiver can be a big part of a team's success, so I also looked at how well the Giants did as a team during a player's tenure. Did the team win, did they make the playoffs, did they win a championship? Of course, it's also common for a great player to be surrounded by a mediocre team, so I didn't consider this criterion as strongly as the others.

Even so, my ranking is still somewhat subjective, and you may not agree with my choices. Whether or not you do, I hope you enjoy the list!

10. Ike Hilliard

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 1997–2004 (8 years of 12-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 88
  • Playoff appearances: 2000, 2007

Recap of Hilliard's Giants Career

The Giants drafted Ike Hilliard in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft with the seventh overall pick. He had been named a consensus All-American at the University of Florida, which won the 1997 Sugar Bowl for its first national title during his junior year.

Hilliard's promising start with the Giants was derailed in the second game of his rookie season. After completing a 23-yard reception, he suffered a serious neck injury and was out for the rest of the season. Coming back in 1998, he caught 51 passes for 715 yards, second-most on the team.

Hilliard's best season statistically was 1999, when he came up just short of a 1,000-yard season with 72 receptions for 996 yards. In 2000, he caught 55 passes for 787 yards and led the team in touchdowns with eight, helping the Giants win the National Football Conference (NFC) Eastern Division title. In the Giants' 41-0 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, Hilliard turned in a superb performance with 10 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

Hilliard was the Giants' leading receiver in 24 games. He never led the team in single-season receiving yardage, but he came in second in five of his eight seasons. He finished his Giants career with 4,630 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns.

Ike Hilliard's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
1997
2
2
42
21.0
0
23
1998
16
51
715
14.0
2
50
1999
16
72
996
13.8
3
46
2000
14
55
787
14.3
8
59
2001
14
52
659
12.7
6
38
2002
7
27
386
14.3
2
38
2003
13
60
608
10.1
6
38
2004
16
49
437
8.9
0
43
Career
98
368
4,630
12.6
27
59

9. Hakeem Nicks

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 2009–2013, 2015 (6 years of 7-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 88
  • Playoff appearance: 2011
  • Super Bowl Championship: Super Bowl XLVI

Recap of Nicks's Giants Career

The Giants drafted Hakeem Nicks out of the University of North Carolina in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft with the 29th overall pick.

Nicks had a very successful rookie season. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October, when he caught 14 passes for 297 yards and scored a touchdown in each of the Giants' four games. For the season, he had 47 receptions for 790 receiving yards with six touchdowns.

Nicks started the 2010 season with a bang, scoring three touchdowns in the Giants' season-opening win over the Carolina Panthers. For the season, he led the team in receiving yardage with 1,052 yards on 79 receptions. His 11 touchdown catches were fourth-best in the league.

In 2011, Nicks had his second consecutive season with 1,000+ receiving yards, catching 76 passes for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. He was especially prolific in the Giants' surprising playoff run, setting several franchise records with 28 receptions for 444 yards and four touchdowns. With 109 of those yards coming in Super Bowl XLVI, he was the leading receiver in the Giants' 21-17 win over the New England Patriots.

Nicks had one of the best games of his career in Week 2 of the 2012 season, catching 10 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown in the Giants' win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In recognition of his performance, he was selected as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

For the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Nicks had the second-most receiving yards on the team with 692 and 896 yards, respectively. His Giants contract expired after the 2013 season, and he played for the Indianapolis Colts for one year before returning to the Giants midway through the 2015 season, when he saw limited action in six games. For his career, Nicks had 318 receptions for 4,656 yards with 27 touchdowns.

Hakeem Nicks's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
2009
14
47
790
16.8
6
68
2010
13
79
1,052
13.3
11
46
2011
15
76
1,192
15.7
7
68
2012
13
53
692
13.1
3
50
2013
15
56
896
16.0
0
57
2015
6
7
54
7.7
0
19
Career
76
318
4,676
14.7
27
68

8. Chris Calloway

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 1992–1998 (7 years of 11-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 80
  • Playoff appearances: 1993, 1997

Recap of Calloway's Giants Career

Chris Calloway was a flanker for a University of Michigan team that won two Big Ten Conference championships and two Rose Bowls. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. After two seasons with the Steelers, the Giants signed him as a free agent in March 1992.

Calloway went on to play in every game for the Giants for seven years. He led the team in receiving yardage for the first time in Week 15 of the 1992 season, and he caught his first touchdown pass as a Giant the following week.

By 1994, Calloway was a regular starter. In four consecutive seasons from 1995 to 1998, he led the team in receiving yardage. Beginning with the second game of the 1996 season and continuing through the entire 1997 and 1998 seasons, he had at least one reception in 47 straight games, setting a franchise record.

Statistically, Calloway's best season was 1997. He led the Giants with 849 receiving yards on 58 receptions, for an average of 14.6 yards per reception. He caught eight touchdown passes.

The highlight of Calloway's season came in the Giants' Week 8 overtime win over the Detroit Lions. He led the team with 145 receiving yards and scored the winning touchdown in overtime on a 68-yard reception from Danny Kanell. Calloway's performance earned him the award as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

During his Giants career, Calloway was the team's leading receiver in 41 games, the second-most in Giants history. When his Giants tenure ended after the 1998 season, Calloway's 334 receptions were the third-most in franchise history, and he was fifth in all-time receiving yardage with 4,710 yards.

Chris Calloway's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
1992
16
27
335
12.4
1
28
1993
16
35
513
14.7
3
47
1994
16
43
666
15.5
2
51
1995
16
56
796
14.2
3
49
1996
16
53
739
13.9
4
36
1997
16
58
849
14.6
8
68
1998
16
62
812
13.1
6
36
Career
112
334
4,710
14.1
27
68
Plaxico Burress on the field for the opening game of the Giants' 2008 season.
Plaxico Burress on the field for the opening game of the Giants' 2008 season. | Source

7. Plaxico Burress

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 2005–2008 (4 years of 11-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 17
  • Playoff appearances: 2005, 2006, 2007
  • Super Bowl Championship: Super Bowl XLII

Recap of Burress's Giants Career

Plaxico Burress signed with the Giants in March 2005 after playing for five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers had drafted him with the eighth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft after his record-setting college football career at Michigan State University.

In his first season with the Giants, Burress was the team's leading receiver with 76 receptions for 1,214 yards and seven touchdowns. An early highlight of the season came in the Giants' Week 4 win over the St. Louis Rams, as Burress caught 10 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns. The yardage total was his highest single-game total with the Giants. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.

In 2006, Burress struggled with a groin injury for much of the year. Nonetheless, he scored 10 touchdowns and again led the team in receiving yardage, falling just short of a 1,000-yard season with 988 yards on 63 receptions.

Burress was the Giants' leading receiver for the third consecutive season in 2007, despite not practicing all season because of a knee injury. He had 1,025 yards on 70 receptions during the regular season. In the Giants' NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers, he set a franchise record with 11 catches for 154 yards.

The highlight of the season—both for Burress and for the Giants—came in the final minute of Super Bowl XLII. With the Giants down 14-10 to the undefeated New England Patriots, Burress caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 39 seconds left to cap a thrilling win for the Giants.

Burress's 2008 season was disappointing. After missing practice time due to a contract dispute, he then violated team rules by missing practice in September, resulting in a one-game suspension. His last appearance with the Giants came on November 23. On November 28, he injured himself in an accidental shooting at a New York nightclub. The Giants suspended him for the remainder of the season and released him in April 2009.

In four seasons with the Giants, Burress had 244 receptions for 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns. He was the leading receiver in more than half of the games he played in. He was a very talented receiver. If his Giants career had been longer, Burress probably would be higher on my list.

Plaxico Burress's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
2005
16
76
1,214
16.0
7
78
2006
15
63
988
15.7
10
55
2007
16
70
1,025
14.6
12
60
2008
10
35
454
13.0
4
33
Career
57
244
3,681
15.1
33
78
Victor Cruz catches a long first down reception against the Detroit Lions, December 18, 2016.
Victor Cruz catches a long first down reception against the Detroit Lions, December 18, 2016. | Source

6. Victor Cruz

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 2010–2014, 2016 (entire 6-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 80
  • Playoff appearances: 2011, 2016
  • Super Bowl Championship: Super Bowl XLVI
  • Pro Bowl selection: 2012
  • NFL season leader: longest reception (2011)

Recap of Cruz's Giants Career

Victor Cruz had a solid college football career at the University of Massachusetts, but he went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. The Giants quickly signed him as a free agent.

He made the Giants' roster after an outstanding 2010 preseason but played in only three games in the regular season before suffering a hamstring injury. The Giants put him on the injured reserve list, and he missed the rest of the season.

Cruz came back with a vengeance in 2011 and had one of the most remarkable seasons by a wide receiver in Giants franchise history. He began the season as the team's fourth wide receiver but took on an expanded role after Domenik Hixon went down with an injury. In Week 3, he led the Giants with 110 receiving yards and two touchdowns as they beat the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the first of 10 games in the regular season in which Cruz led the team in receiving yardage and the first of seven in which he had 100 or more receiving yards.

Cruz played a huge role in the Giants' last two regular-season games that propelled them into the playoffs. In their Week 16 win over the New York Jets, he caught three passes for 164 yards. His 99-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter included a record-setting 89 yards after the catch. The following week, in the Giants' must-win game against the Dallas Cowboys, Cruz had 178 receiving yards in the Giants' 31-14 win that clinched the NFC East.

Cruz set a Giants franchise record with 1,536 receiving yards for the season. Hakeem Nicks also had more than 1,000 receiving yards, making 2011 the only season in Giants history in which two wide receivers hit that milestone. Cruz continued his outstanding play in the Giants' playoff run, contributing 269 yards on 21 receptions, including a touchdown catch in the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI win over the New England Patriots.

Cruz had a second consecutive season with 1,000+ yards in 2012 and just missed a third with 998 yards in 2013. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

After a torn tendon injury in the sixth game of the 2014 season, Cruz missed the remainder of the season and all of the 2015 season. He came back in 2016 as the Giants' third wide receiver option and had 586 yards for the season. He did not play in 2017 and retired in 2018.

Despite losing more than his share of time due to injuries, Cruz finished his Giants career with 4,579 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns. His 99-yard touchdown reception in 2011 is the longest in Giants history.

Victor Cruz's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
2010
3
0
0
0
0
0
2011
16
82
1,536
18.7
9
99
2012
16
86
1,092
12.7
10
80
2013
14
73
998
13.7
4
70
2014
6
23
337
14.7
1
61
2016
15
39
586
15.0
1
48
Career
70
303
4,549
15.0
25
99
Bold = NFL leader

5. Del Shofner

Shofner's Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 1961–1967 (7 years of 11-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 85
  • Playoff appearances: 1961, 1962, 1963
  • 3-time Pro Bowl selection: 1961, 1962, 1963
  • 3-time First-Team All-Pro: 1961, 1962, 1963

Recap of Shofner's Giants Career

Del Shofner was the first Giant to have more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season. In fact, he accomplished the feat three times, in each of his first three seasons with the Giants, beginning in 1961.

After playing college football at Baylor University, Shofner was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft. He played for the Rams for four seasons, both as a receiver and a punter. He led the NFL in receiving yardage in 1958.

In late August 1961, the Giants obtained Shofner from the Rams in a trade for their 1962 first-round draft choice. Earlier that month, the Giants had acquired veteran quarterback Y.A. Tittle in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The combination of Tittle and Shofner revitalized the Giants' offense.

In the 1961 season, Shofner caught 68 passes for 1,125 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 1962, he tallied 1,133 yards on only 53 catches, an average of 21.4 yards per reception, and scored 12 touchdowns. In 1963, he had 64 receptions, including nine for touchdowns, for a total of 1,181 yards. The yardage total was the best of his career and the third-best in the NFL that season.

From 1961 to 1963, Shofner had 13 games with 100 or more receiving yards. He turned in one of the best performances in franchise history in Week 7 of 1962. After missing one game due to a severe shoulder injury (that probably should have kept him out longer), Shofner caught 11 passes for 269 yards with one touchdown to help the Giants beat the Washington Redskins.

Shofner was named a First-Team All-Pro and selected for the Pro Bowl in each of those first three seasons with the Giants. Moreover, his individual success as a receiver (usually lined up as a split end) coincided with successful seasons for the Giants. They won the Eastern Division all three years but lost in the NFL Championship game each time.

Injuries caught up with Shofner beginning in 1964, limiting his playing time and hampering his effectiveness. He lost his job as the starting split end midway through the 1965 season. Although he continued to play through the 1967 season, his numbers were never again comparable to those from 1961 to 1963.

When Shofner retired after the 1967 season, he was the Giants' number-two all-time career receptions leader with 239 catches; in addition, he was also their number-three all-time career leader in receiving yardage with 4,315 yards.

Del Shofner's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
1961
14
68
1,125
16.5
11
46
1962
13
53
1,133
21.4
12
69
1963
14
64
1,181
18.5
9
70
1964
6
22
323
14.7
0
54
1965
12
22
388
17.6
2
49
1966
9
3
19
6.3
0
9
1967
10
7
146
20.9
1
33
Career
78
239
4,315
18.1
35
70
Odell Beckham leaps in an attempt to evade a tackle by the Philadelphia Eagles, December 22, 2016.
Odell Beckham leaps in an attempt to evade a tackle by the Philadelphia Eagles, December 22, 2016. | Source

4. Odell Beckham Jr.

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 2014–2018 (first 5 years of NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 13
  • Playoff appearance: 2016
  • 3-time Pro Bowl selection: 2014, 2015, 2016
  • NFL season leader: yards per game (2014), yards per touch (2016)
  • Awards and honors: NFL All-Rookie Team (2014), NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2014)

Recap of Beckham's Giants Career

Excelling at Louisiana State University as both a wide receiver and a return specialist, Odell Beckham Jr. won the 2013 Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in major college football. When he entered the 2014 NFL Draft after his junior season, the Giants drafted him with the 12th overall pick in the first round.

Beckham missed the first four games of his rookie season due to an injury, but once he saw action, he made a huge impact. He scored a touchdown in his first game. In the month of November, he really broke out, with 38 receptions, 593 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. He made the NFL highlight reel in the Giants' Week 12 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when he made a one-handed touchdown catch of a 43-yard pass from Eli Manning to open the second quarter. Many commentators called it the catch of the year.

Beckham continued his impressive performance through the entire 2014 season. He set several Giants rookie records along the way, including the longest-ever touchdown reception by a rookie, with an 80-yard catch against the St. Louis Rams, and the most receiving yards in a game, with 185 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He finished his rookie season with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. He put these numbers together in only 12 games, giving him an NFL-best 108.8 average yards per game. He made the Pro Bowl and was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers Association.

In 2015, Beckham had even better numbers. Beginning in Week 8, he put together six consecutive games with 100+ receiving yards. In the Giants' game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 15, Beckham was involved in several altercations and received three personal foul penalties. The NFL suspended him for one game. But in his 15-game season, he caught 96 passes for 1,450 yards. He had 13 touchdown receptions, which tied the Giants record set by Homer Jones in 1967. He was again named to the Pro Bowl.

In 2016, Beckham played in all 16 games of the season for the first time. He finished the season with a career-high 101 receptions, for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns. In the Week 3 game against the Washington Redskins, Beckham's 30th NFL game, he had seven receptions for 121 yards. His first reception of the game gave him 200 for his career, making him the fastest player in NFL history to reach that milestone. In the same game, he also became the fastest player to reach 3,000 receiving yards. He was selected for the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season.

Beckham missed most of the 2017 season with an ankle injury. However, he came back in 2018 to record 1,000+ receiving yards for the fourth time in his career, despite missing the last four games of the season with a quad injury. In addition to his receiving accomplishments, Beckham threw two touchdown passes in the 2018 season.

In the off-season, the Giants traded Beckham to the Cleveland Browns. Despite being a Giant for only five seasons and playing in only 59 games, Beckham's career numbers put him among the all-time receiving greats. At the end of his Giants tenure, he was second only to Amani Toomer in receiving yardage with 5,476 yards, fourth in receptions with 390, and fourth in receiving touchdowns with 44.

Odell Beckham's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
2014
12
91
1,305
14.3
12
80
2015
15
96
1,450
15.1
13
87
2016
16
101
1,367
13.5
10
75
2017
4
25
302
12.1
3
48
2018
12
77
1,052
13.7
6
51
Career
59
390
5,476
14.0
44
87

3. Homer Jones

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 1964–1969 (6 years of 7-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 45
  • 2-time Pro Bowl selection: 1967, 1968
  • NFL season leader: longest reception (1965), receiving touchdowns, combined rush and receiving touchdowns (1967)

Recap of Jones's Giants Career

After playing college football at Texas Southern College, Homer Jones was drafted by the Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL) in the fifth round of the 1963 AFL Draft. But the Oilers cut him after he suffered a knee injury in training camp.

The Giants had drafted him in the twentieth round of the NFL Draft the same year. They paid to bring him to New York for knee surgery. After rehabbing his knee, he got into three games in the 1964 season and caught four passes for 82 yards.

Jones also saw limited action in the first few games of the 1965 season, but he got a start in Week 5 because Del Shofner was out with an injury. He made the most of the opportunity. In the second quarter of the Giants' win over the Philadelphia Eagles, he caught an 89-yard touchdown pass from Earl Morrall, the longest touchdown reception in Giants history to that point and the longest reception that season in the NFL.

Jones went on from there to lead the Giants in receiving for the season with 26 receptions for 709 yards, for an exceptional 27.3 average yards per catch.

In the Giants' 1966 opener, Jones caught two passes. Both were touchdowns, and both were long: a 75-yarder in the first quarter and a 98-yarder in the fourth. For the game, Jones had 173 receiving yards on only two receptions. He went over the 1,000-yard season mark for the first time in 1966, the first of three straight 1,000-yard plus seasons for him.

In 1967, Jones scored 13 receiving touchdowns, tops in the NFL and a Giants franchise record that still stands. (Odell Beckham tied it in 2015.) Jones was chosen for the 1967 and 1968 Pro Bowls.

The Giants traded him to the Cleveland Browns after the 1969 season. He played for the Browns for one season before retiring.

Jones finished his Giants career with 214 receptions for 4,845 yards and 35 touchdowns. At the time, his receiving yardage was second-best all-time in franchise history. He remains the Giants' all-time leader in yards per reception (based on a minimum of 200 receptions) with a 22.6 average. His slightly lower overall career average of 22.3 is the best in NFL history.

Homer Jones's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
1964
3
4
82
20.5
0
30
1965
14
26
709
27.3
6
89
1966
14
48
1,044
21.8
8
98
1967
14
49
1,209
24.7
13
70
1968
14
45
1,057
23.5
7
84
1969
14
42
744
17.7
1
54
Career
73
214
4,845
22.6
35
98
Bold = NFL leader
Kyle Rote in the Giants' training camp at Saranac Lake, New York, 1951.
Kyle Rote in the Giants' training camp at Saranac Lake, New York, 1951. | Source

2. Kyle Rote

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 1951–1961 (entire 11-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 44
  • Playoff appearances: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961
  • NFL Championship: 1956
  • 4-time Pro Bowl selection: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956

Recap of Rote's Giants Career

Kyle Rote was a multi-sport athlete at Southern Methodist University. He was an All-American tailback in football and the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. The Giants drafted him with the first overall pick in the 1951 NFL Draft.

For his first two years with the Giants, Rote was a running back, but a knee injury that he had suffered in training camp before his rookie season never completely healed and limited his speed. In 1953, he transitioned to the wide receiver position, where his great moves and instincts served him well. He led the Giants in receiving yardage in 1953 for the first of three consecutive seasons (edging Bob Schnelker by one yard in 1954).

Rote teamed with other stars like fellow Pro Bowlers Frank Gifford, Charlie Conerly, and Emlen Tunnell to help the Giants win the NFL Championship in 1956. Rote caught a touchdown pass in the championship game as the Giants beat the Chicago Bears 47-7. The Giants reached the NFL Championship game three more times during Rote's career, although they didn't win it again.

Rote's most productive years in terms of total receiving yardage were the final two seasons of his career. In 1960, he led the Giants with 42 receptions for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns. In the 1961 season, he contributed 805 yards, second to Del Shofner.

Rote was one of the most popular Giants among both the fans and his teammates. He was a Giants captain for 10 of his 11 seasons, and numerous teammates reportedly paid him the high compliment of naming sons after him.

When Rote retired after the 1961 season, he held numerous Giants receiving records. He was the Giants career leader in receptions with 300, receiving yardage with 4,797 yards, and touchdown receptions with 48.

Kyle Rote's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
1951
5
8
62
7.8
0
18
1952
12
21
240
11.4
2
26
1953
9
26
440
16.9
5
75
1954
11
29
551
19.0
2
63
1955
12
31
580
18.7
8
71
1956
12
28
405
14.5
4
31
1957
12
25
358
14.3
3
33
1958
12
12
244
20.3
3
44
1959
10
25
362
14.5
4
34
1960
12
42
750
17.9
10
71
1961
14
53
805
15.2
7
57
Career
121
300
4.797
16.0
48
75
Amani Toomer and Kurt Warner sign autographs for sailors aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy, 2005.
Amani Toomer and Kurt Warner sign autographs for sailors aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy, 2005. | Source

1. Amani Toomer

Giants Career at a Glance

  • Years with the team: 1996–2008 (entire 13-year NFL career)
  • Jersey numbers: 89 (1996–1997), 81 (1998–2008)
  • Playoff appearances: 1997, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008
  • Super Bowl Championship: Super Bowl XLII
  • Awards and honors: Giants Ring of Honor (2010)

Recap of Toomer's Giants Career

Amani Toomer finished his college football career at the University of Michigan ranked second all-time in receiving yards, despite being a starter for only one of his four seasons. The Giants drafted him with the 34th overall pick in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft.

The Giants used Toomer primarily as a kickoff and punt return specialist for his first three seasons. In his first NFL game, the Giants' 1996 opener against the Buffalo Bills, Toomer returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown, setting a Giants record. He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 8 of the 1997 season when he returned five punts for 78 yards, including a 53-yard return for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.

Toomer continued to see most of his playing time as a return specialist in 1997 and 1998, but he also started to get some opportunities as a receiver. He caught his first NFL touchdown pass in the Giants' win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12 of the 1997 season. In 1998, he had 27 receptions for 360 yards and scored five receiving touchdowns.

In 1999, Toomer started all of the Giants' games as a wide receiver. He had 1,183 receiving yards for the season, the second-highest total in Giants history, and he set a new Giants record with 79 receptions.

This began an unprecedented and so far unequaled streak of five consecutive seasons in which Toomer recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards. His best season statistically was 2002, when he caught 82 passes for 1,343 yards, with eight touchdowns. In Week 2 of 2003, Toomer had 129 receiving yards against the Dallas Cowboys and surpassed Frank Gifford's all-time Giants career receiving yardage record.

Toomer had numerous other outstanding performances. He was awarded the game ball after his 204-yard, three-touchdown game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16 of the 2002 season. One of the touchdowns came on an 82-yard catch, which was the longest reception of his career. When the Giants beat the New York Jets in Week 9 of the 2003 season, Toomer was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after recording 127 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown reception.

In the 2004 season, Toomer's streak of 1,000-yard seasons came to an end, and he didn't score a touchdown for the first time since his rookie season. But even after Plaxico Burress emerged as the Giant's number-one receiver in 2005, Toomer continued to be a force on the Giants' offense. When the Giants beat the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7 of the 2007 season, Toomer had seven receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. The seventh catch was the 587th of his career, which broke Tiki Barber's Giants record for most receptions. The touchdown catch tied him with Kyle Rote on the Giants' all-time list. He passed Rote with another touchdown the following week.

Toomer was a member of six Giants playoff teams, including two that went to the Super Bowl. In the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win over the New England Patriots, Toomer led the Giants with six receptions and 84 receiving yards.

Toomer retired from the Giants with 668 receptions, 9,497 receiving yards, and 54 receiving touchdowns. All were and still are Giants franchise records. He holds other records as well. There can be no doubt that Amani Toomer is the number-one Giants wide receiver of all time.

Amani Toomer's Statistics With the Giants

Year
G
Rec
Yds
Y/R
TDs
Lng
1996
7
1
12
12.0
0
12
1997
16
16
263
16.4
1
56
1998
16
27
360
13.3
5
37
1999
16
79
1,183
15.0
6
80
2000
16
78
1,094
14.0
7
54
2001
16
72
1,054
14.6
5
60
2002
16
82
1,343
16.4
8
82
2003
16
63
1,057
16.8
5
77
2004
15
51
747
14.6
0
48
2005
16
60
684
11.4
7
37
2006
8
32
360
11.3
3
44
2007
16
59
760
12.9
3
40
2008
16
48
580
12.1
4
40
Career
190
668
9,497
14.2
54
82

Honorable Mentions

Besides the top 10 wide receivers that I've listed, the Giants have had other standout players at this position (including split ends and flankers) over the years. Here are my choices for honorable mention, listed in alphabetical order.

Frank Gifford

  • Years with the team: 1952–1960, 1962–1964 (entire 12-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 16
  • Playoff appearances: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963
  • NFL Championship: 1956
  • 8-time Pro Bowl selection: 1953–1959, 1963
  • 4-time First-Team All-Pro: 1955–1957, 1959
  • NFL season leader: total yards from scrimmage (1956)
  • Career receiving: 367 receptions for 5,434 yards, 43 touchdowns
  • Awards and honors: NFL Most Valuable Player Award (1956), Comeback Player of the Year (1962), Professional Football Hall of Fame (1977), Giants jersey number 16 retired (2000), Giants Ring of Honor (2010)

Hall of Famer Frank Gifford was one of the greatest Giants of all time. Although he spent most of his career as a running back, he switched to the flanker position for the last three years of his career after a devastating head injury kept him out for the entire 1961 season. He played so well as a receiver that United Press International (UPI) named him the Comeback Player of the Year in 1962 and he made the Pro Bowl in 1963 for the eighth time in his career. When he retired, Gifford was the Giants' all-time career leader in receptions and receiving yardage and was second in receiving touchdowns. I've ranked him second on my list of the Giants' all-time best running backs, but a strong argument can be made for including him among the top 10 wide receivers, too.

Earnest Gray

  • Years with the team: 1979–1984 (6 years of 7-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 83
  • Playoff appearances: 1981, 1984
  • Career receiving: 243 receptions for 3,768, 27 touchdowns
  • Awards and honors: 1979 NFL All-Rookie Team

Gray led the Giants in receiving yardage in three of his six years with the team. In 1980, his second year, he led the Giants with 52 receptions for 777 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 1983, he had 1,139 receiving yards and also led the team with 78 receptions and five receiving touchdowns. He was the first Giants receiver to record 1,000+ yards since Homer Jones had done it in 1968.

Lionel Manuel

  • Years with the team: 1984–1990 (entire 7-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 86
  • Playoff appearances: 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989
  • Super Bowl Championship: Super Bowl XXI
  • Career receiving: 232 receptions for 3,941 yards, 23 touchdowns

Manuel was a top receiver for the Giants in the 1980s. His best year was 1988 when he was the Giants leading receiver with 65 receptions and 1,029 yards. He also led the Giants in receiving yards in 1985 and 1989.

Joe Morrison

  • Years with the team: 1959–1972 (entire 14-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 40
  • Playoff appearances: 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963
  • Career receiving: 395 receptions for 4,993 yards, 47 touchdowns
  • Awards and honors: Giants jersey number 40 retired (1972), Giants Ring of Honor (2010)

Nicknamed "Old Dependable," Morrison played both as a wide receiver and a running back during his long Giants career. He had his best season as a receiver in 1966, with 46 receptions for 724 yards and six touchdowns. When he retired, he was the Giants' all-time career leader in receptions and was second all-time in receiving yards.

Steve Smith

  • Years with the team: 2007–2010 (4 years of 6-year NFL career)
  • Jersey number: 12
  • Playoff appearances: 2007, 2008
  • Super Bowl Championship: Super Bowl XLII
  • Pro Bowl selection: 2009
  • Career receiving: 220 receptions for 2,386 yards, 11 touchdowns

Smith had a short but prolific career with the Giants. He first made a name for himself in the 2007 playoffs, catching 14 passes for 152 yards. He had four third-down catches in the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win over the New England Patriots. Smith made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he led the Giants with 107 receptions, 1,220 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns.

Final Thoughts on This Ranking

This ranking of the Giants' all-time best wide receivers is certainly not definitive. I think that Amani Toomer is the obvious choice for the number-one spot, but after that, reasonable minds may differ.

If you're a Giants fan, you probably have your own favorite players. You might also think that other criteria should be used to rank the top wide receivers in franchise history. Debates about listing some players instead of others or about the order of the ranking are likely.

You're welcome to disagree with my choices, especially if I've omitted one of your favorite wide receivers or ranked a player higher or lower than you think he deserves. In fact, I hope you do. Differing opinions are a big part of what makes football fun.

All 1,000-Yard Seasons by Giants Wide Receivers

(click column header to sort results)
Year  
Player  
G  
Rec  
Yds  
Y/R  
TDs  
1961
Del Shofner
14
68
1,125
16.5
11
1962
Del Shofner
13
53
1,133
21.4
12
1963
Del Shofner
14
64
1,181
18.5
9
1966
Homer Jones
14
48
1,044
21.8
8
1967
Homer Jones
14
45
1,209
24.7
13
1968
Homer Jones
14
49
1,057
23.5
7
1983
Earnest Gray
16
78
1,139
14.6
5
1988
Lionel Manuel
16
65
1,029
15.8
4
1999
Amani Toomer
16
79
1,183
15.0
6
2000
Amani Toomer
16
78
1,094
14.0
7
2001
Amani Toomer
16
72
1,054
14.6
5
2002
Amani Toomer
16
82
1,343
16.4
8
2003
Amani Toomer
16
63
1,057
16.8
5
2005
Plaxico Burress
16
76
1,214
16.0
7
2007
Plaxico Burress
16
70
1,025
14.6
12
2009
Steve Smith
16
107
1,220
11.4
7
2010
Hakeem Nicks
13
79
1,052
13.3
11
2011
Victor Cruz
16
82
1,536
18.7
9
2011
Hakeem Nicks
15
76
1,192
15.7
7
2012
Victor Cruz
16
86
1,092
12.7
10
2014
Odell Beckham
12
91
1,305
14.3
12
2015
Odell Beckham
15
96
1,450
15.1
13
2016
Odell Beckham
16
101
1,367
13.5
10
2018
Odell Beckham
12
77
1,052
13.7
6

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